UK MPs to question former PM Boris Johnson over ‘Partygate’ sandals: Report
UK lawmakers announced on Friday they would question former Prime Minister Boris Johnson over whether he lied about “Partygate”, in an inquiry that could lead to his removal as a member of parliament.
In an interim report released after eight months of work, Parliament’s “Privileges” committee said the evidence so far undermined Johnson’s pleas of innocence to the House of Commons.
“The evidence strongly suggests that a breach of (lockdown) guidance was apparent to Mr Johnson while he was at the gatherings,” the report said.
Described as a summary of the investigation so far before Johnson’s inquiry, it stated that “there is evidence that the House of Commons may have been misled” on several occasions.
The committee summoned the ex-Conservative leader to give public evidence in the week commencing 20 March.
Johnson, who resigned as prime minister last summer following “Partygate” and other scandals, said the report showed he was “absolved” and had “brought no contempt of parliament”. .
Johnson has repeatedly denied in parliament that he or his staff had breached his own Covid lockdown laws by gathering an alcohol crowd at 10 Downing Street.
But police issued fines to dozens of Downing Street staff following a criminal investigation, and Johnson became the first serving UK prime minister to break the law at a gathering.
The seven-member Privileges Committee includes four Conservatives, two Labor MPs and one Scottish National Party MLA.
If it ultimately concludes that he deliberately misled the House of Commons, it may recommend various sanctions for all MPs to vote on.
They included a suspension of 10 days or more, which would trigger a petition to oust Johnson as a legislator.
A by-election for his West London seat will take place if 10 per cent of registered voters there sign it.
The developments come as Johnson and his allies on Thursday denounced news that senior civil servant Sue Gray, who led the government’s own inquiry into “Partygate”, had quit working for the leader of the opposition Labor Party. left it.
Linking the matter to the committee’s investigation, Johnson said it was “unrealistic” the panel planned to rely on evidence “reconstructed and orchestrated” by Gray.
Their report found a “failure of leadership and judgement” in Johnson’s Downing Street operation on the controversy, but the committee insisted it had its own evidence.
It cited WhatsApp messages, including one from a top aide, which said the excuse offered by the staff “creates another huge gap” in the PM’s account.